Cantankerous Coincidence

My son, Thomas, received a present from his marraine (godmother) during the week. It was the DVD of the Pixar film ‘Up’ which in the French version is entitled ‘Là Haut’.  This, in turn, translates as ‘Up There’.  As I am always keen to extend my knowledge of the French language and started to read the blurb on the back of the box. Part of the blurb goes like this:

Carl Fredrickson, un vendeur de ballons à la retraite aussi réveur qu’acariâtre, …

This translates as ‘Carl Fredrickson, a retired balloon seller, as much a dreamer as a cantankerous…’

I had to look up ‘acariâtre’ as my wife, a native French speaker, confessed to not being able to translate it into English.  No shame there; cantankerous is a less well-known English word also and I would have few opportunities to use it – not that I wouldn’t seek to drop it into conversation when possible…

We now return to the Twilight Zone.  Having put ‘acariâtre’ into deep storage, I was again struck by one of those coincidences that I mentioned in my H P Lovecraft post.  I was watching an episode of the Twilight Zone called ‘The Invaders’ in which a woman, isolated from civilization, without running water, electricity or communication battles a terrifying enemy.  She is disturbed in her chores one evening by the arrival of a ‘flying saucer’ that brings invaders that she starts to fight against.  The episode was made all the more eerie by the powerful, physical performance of the actress playing the woman.  The woman doesn’t have any words to speak but conveys her sense of terror through her facial expressions, physical strength and muttered cries of fear and confusion.  She battles hard against her superior until the, usual, twist in the tail finale.

I was impressed by the performance, having done some amateur dramatics in my youth, and waited eagerly for the credits to see who the actress was.

The actress was Agnes Moorhead – a name that struck a distant bell.

I decided to look up Agnes Moorhead on Wikipedia.  On our home PC in Belgium, the Wikipedia defaults to the French language, but I barely notice these days.  She lived between 1900 and 1974 and has a string of Hollywood films to her credit as well as numerous TV appearances.  The French Wikipedia site describes her like this;

‘Actrice confirmée aussi bien à la scène qu’à l’écran, elle est pourtant surtout connue du grand public pour son interprétation d’Endora, la mère acariâtre de Samantha Stephens dans la série télévisée Ma Sorciére bien-aimèe.

That’s right, ‘la mère acariâtre de’ which translates as  ‘the cantankerous mother of’.  It’s another coincidence, this one extending into the French language.  The more you read or watch, the more connected the world becomes.

And it didn’t end there.  While looking up Agnes Moorhead and noting her appearances in Bewitched (a TV show that I loved from my childhood) another amusing connection hove into view.   The long-suffering husband of Samantha the witch was played by Dick York.  Dick York played the role of Hector Booth in the Twilight Zone episode immediately following ‘The Invaders’, 4 years before he and Agnes were to work together on ‘Bewitched’.  The episode was called ‘A Penny for your Thoughts’.  You know mine!


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